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GE’s Water & Process Technologies today announced it is collaborating with the University of Guelph on a wastewater research initiative to maximize renewable energy generation and simultaneously produce a pathogen-free biosolids fertilizer.

Government, university officials and company executives gathered today for the grand opening of the new pilot, located at the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC) wastewater demonstration facility adjacent to the City of Guelph wastewater treatment plant.

According to GE, the pilot is the first large-scale project to receive funding under the SOWC’s Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program, which supports collaborative, industry-led technology development projects. SOWC is funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The AWT program is supplying nearly $600,000 to collaborators for this project. In addition, GE is investing $900,000 in infrastructure and support.

“This first large AWT project epitomizes what SOWC is all about,” said SOWC Executive Director Brenda Lucas. “We are connecting the needs of industry with Ontario’s academic expertise and enabling real-world testing in unique facilities to help bring innovative technologies to market.”

GE said its goal is to shift wastewater treatment from a burden to an opportunity, where valuable resources can be extracted—namely renewable energy, clean water and fertilizer. Enhancing anaerobic digestion through biological hydrolysis technology is one of the keys to realizing this goal, according to GE.

Biological hydrolysis technology maximizes the efficiency of existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure by increasing its throughput capacity by up to three times. This enables plant owners to not only treat more sludge, but potentially other organic materials, dramatically increasing biogas production that can be converted to renewable energy. At the same time, a pathogen-free fertilizer product is produced.

“We are very pleased to support this demonstration of our biological hydrolysis technology,” said Glenn Vicevic, executive, product management—GE’s Water & Process Technologies. “This pilot project further validates the viability of energy neutral wastewater treatment that can produce valuable resources in the form of clean water, renewable energy and fertilizer.”

Member of Provincial Parliament Liz Sandals also announced $500,000 in provincial funding for SOWC at the event on behalf of the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science. The investment will allow SOWC to build on the University of Guelph’s research project and other innovative technologies developed by Ontario companies for capturing value from wastewater treatment.

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